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March 2010 Email this to a friend
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A taste for the unexpected

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The days of having to go to Key West, Provincetown, Saugatuck or other obvious spots to find a gay resort are long over. Now they're everywhere! Well, if not everywhere, then at least in lots of places you wouldn't expect. Here are a few that sound like the most fun to us.

Assume the position
Blue Osa (blueosa.com), which held its first retreat in January 2010, takes its name from its location on the lush Osa Peninsula in southwest Costa Rica. The yoga classes here may be intense, but this is no austere ashram. The beachside complex includes a full-service hotel, along with a 70-foot freshwater lap pool and an open-air yoga studio. The owners' credentials have as much big-city style as their property. One co-founder, Aaron Star, is famous for his Hot Nude Yoga classes, which meet in New York, Los Angeles and now the Blue Osa. Combining a potpourri of yogic traditions with (let's face it) a little tantric titillation, the classes have gone a long way toward making yoga a little less granola and a whole lot more sexy. (And all that nakedness adds that extra bit of narcissism that the gay community has sorely lacked until now. We kid!) In any case, if you'd rather treat the Blue Osa as just a wonderful resort, that's fine too. There's a full-service spa, lots of beachfront for swimming and surfing, and kayak, boat and birdwatching tours. As you'd expect, all the meals are organic, and they always include vegan and vegetarian options.

Don't Fence Me In
Riding a horse, roping a calf, sitting round a campfire at night, then wishin' you knew how to quit your bunkmate -- the (imagined) life of a cowboy has been a draw for many gays, long before anyone heard of Brokeback Mountain. The good news is if you want to rustle up some friends for some 10-gallon fun, the vast majority of dude ranches are gay-friendly. There are a few standouts worth mentioning, though. The Powderhorn Guest Ranch (powderhornguestranch.com), in the Colorado Rockies, has a staff that's roughly half gay. Although it doesn't have many gay weekends per se, gay couples and families are welcomed year round. In addition to the horseback riding, there's some great fly-fishing too. Another option is the Wind Walker Guest Ranch (windwalker.org), about 90 minutes southeast of Salt Lake City, which schedules several gay-themed retreats each year. The Lazy E-L Ranch (lazyel.com), a 12,000-acre plot just down the road from Yellowstone, and the Mancos Dude Ranch (mancosduderanch.com), on the way to Durango, are two other cowpoking palaces that are particularly welcoming to gays.

Hippie energy
If your idea of the perfect escape involves tropical plants and mandatory nudity, consider the Isle of You Naturally (isleofyounaturally.com), a lose-your-clothes resort on Hawaii's Big Island with lots of modern-day-hippie energy. The resort, part of a 70-acre farm that raises bananas, pineapples and other fruits (no pun intended), has been designed to keep off-island distractions at bay. There's no internet or cell-phone reception, and since clothing here is discouraged whenever practical, there wouldn't be anywhere handy to stow that iPhone anyway. Instead of constantly checking Grindr, you'll have to seek out new friends in person. One good place to start is the nearby black-sand beach of Kehena, which is also popular with the clothes-free set. In keeping with its back-to-nature feel, the Isle has simple accommodations: You can choose from either a cabin or a yurt.

Camping It Up
A full-fledged, full-service resort isn't for everyone. There are many more-basic gay and gay-friendly campgrounds that are worth checking out. The best have a strong identity and a real sense of community to go with impressive natural splendor. And if what you really want is the summer camp of your youth, but with more showtunes, consider the weeklong "Camp" Camp (campcamp.com), which retains the sleep-away quality but adds a lot more fabulousness. Designed to let adult members of the GLBT community relive, or discover for the first time, the joys of going to camp, it typically draws about 200 happy campers each year. The nostalgia-fueled happenings are at a "real" camp in southwest Maine that's occupied by teenagers the rest of the season. Most of the activities (pottery and other crafts, swimming, canoeing, campfires) are modeled closely on things you might have done as a kid, although they're all optional this time, and they are supplemented by a tea dance, a pajama party and other same-sex socializing that won't require sneaking out behind the cabins. If you'd like something less structured than "Camp" Camp, there's Gay River Camping (gayrivercamping.com), which organizes trips along the Shenan-doah River, in Virginia. Its annual Fab Festival, held in August, is on a cattle farm, with camping sites along the river. During the weekend, some 100 people come together to swim, canoe, tube and just hang out. For more campy ideas, check out the websites Gaycampers.com and Camp-gayusa.com, both of which have many listings of gay and gay-friendly campgrounds.

Wat a Place to Stay
Lots of gay resorts are scattered in predominantly "straight" destinations, and Cambodia's Siem Reap is no exception. The town is on most travelers' radar because it's a few miles from the fantastic ruins of Angkor Wat, Cambodia's temple city. But Siem Reap is also home to the wonderfully named Golden Banana boutique hotel (www.goldenbanana.info ), which is gay-owned and cultivates a primarily gay clientele. The big draw here is the beautiful swimming pool in the center of the compound -- perfect for removing the dust and aches that accumulate in a day spent exploring temples and palaces. It's also a great base for finding new friends and exploring Siem Reap's nightlife.


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